Special Constable cleared of drugs gross misconduct

PUBLISHED: 11:47 30 November 2018

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A special constable who failed a drug test has been cleared of gross misconduct after she ‘100 per cent’ denied ever knowingly taking cannabis.

Hair and nail samples from Hannah Christer tested positive for the main compound in cannabis, and she could offer no plausible explanation, a misconduct panel in Portishead heard on Monday.

But she claimed she had a zero-tolerance approach to drugs and knew she could have been tested at any point.

Ms Christer was tested when she applied to become a regular warranted police officer with the constabulary and also faced random checks while working as a driver for Tesco.  

The panel accepted Ms Christer’s emphatic denial of deliberately taking cannabis and cleared her of gross misconduct, saying hers were very specific circumstances that would not apply to others.

Ms Christer, who began training as a special constable in June 2016, told the hearing at the Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s headquarters: “I 100 per cent deny knowingly ingesting cannabis or smoking it but you have two scientific tests that suggest otherwise.

“I’ve not been able to give a plausible explanation as to why I tested positive.

“When I was training I knew you don’t use illegal drugs. I have zero-tolerance to it.

“I didn’t know when I would be tested. It could be at any time.

“[After the test] I got a letter saying I had been suspended because I had tested positive for cannabis. I couldn’t believe it. I have never taken cannabis.

“I knew I was going to have a drug test.

“Why would I take illegal drugs?”

Cannabis is an illegal drug and any police staff caught having used it would be guilty of gross misconduct, the panel was told.

After more than three hours of deliberation, panel chairman Alex Lock said the misconduct panel accepted the drug test results but it also noted Ms Christer’s ‘emphatic’ denial. 

He said she knew she could have been tested at any time – and that if she failed she could miss out on becoming a police officer or lose her job.

But he concluded it was not possible to know if Ms Christer has come into contact with the drug ‘innocently or otherwise’.

He added: “Our conclusion, therefore, is that Ms Christer is not guilty of any misconduct.”

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